Wholesome holiday: Ditch the beach vacation for a health-focused cruise

Ditch the beach vacation for a health-focused cruise

Visualize a Caribbean cruise, and screaming children, cheesy tourist traps and towel animals come to mind. But Holistic Holiday at Sea is a different kind of voyage. This oceanic vacation revolves purely around health, wellness and education.

Cruise Photos HI-RES-36

Organizers Sandy Pukel, a central figure in the healthy eating community, and John Belleme, an expert on miso and other Japanese food, oversee Holistic Holiday, now in its 11th year. Pukel had been running healthy-living focused events for more than 30 years in various hotels and around the U.S. More than 400 people attended the first cruise, and the crowd has grown exponentially, with about 1,800 people expected at the next cruise, set for March 1 to 8, 2014.

“The idea is to educate people,” said Pukel. “My mission has always been to help people stay happy and healthy.”

The theme is simple: health and well being through a more holistic lifestyle. Attendees will be able to participate in 120 classes to participate, from yoga (including beginner and intermediate Amrit, flow and power yoga), meditation and Pilates, to macrobiotics and cooking classes.

The fare includes all meals and classes. Holistic Holiday brings its own chefs on board to assist with the cruise staff to create a non-dairy, vegan and organic cuisine; there are five-course dinners. The desserts and beverages are sugar- and dairy-free, and gluten-free options are available. However, if someone requests a certain dish, like fish, the Holistic Holiday staff will accommodate.

All classes will be led by key figures in their prospective fields, like Amrit Desai, the founder of Kripalu yoga. And it’s not all about practicing yoga and meditation: The classes are geared toward education so that participants can take the knowledge with them when they disembark. And every night, attendees can relax even more with a themed party (pizza, cookies-and-milk, singles, etc.).

“The commonality is that people want to better themselves in some kind of lifestyle,” Pukel said. “Some people are sick and want to get better, and some people come on to prevent themselves from getting sick. Some people come for a vacation. It’s one-stop shopping.”

Thirteen hundred people are already signed up for the March cruise, which will sail from Miami to St. Maarten, San Juan and Great Stirrup Cay. Learn more at atasteofhealth.org.